Raw wool washing

We just had a great adventure this morning.  We washed our first ever lamb’s wool.  The kids have been knitting a lot, and really wanted to know where the wool came from… so we will be learning more and more about wool.

Our raw wool had bits, manure and hay galore.    We filled a huge soup pot with boiling water and dish soap, then added our dirty wool.

I watched a few online tutorials about how exactly to wash it while the kids were asleep, main point do not shake or stir, just push up and down with a ladle.

We dumped it out into a strainer and repeated many many many times.

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Eventually we got clean ish wool.  Which we put on a mesh strainer to dry.

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Next we will learn how to card our wool.

 

These projects are all from the wonderful Christopherus curriculum.

Lantern Festival lesson plan

As the sun is going down early, you may be looking to brighten things up a bit. We decided to have a lantern festival to perk up our November. It may just turn into a tradition!

The lantern festival is based on the story of St. Martin of Lourds, a soldier who gave half of his coat to a beggar. He then had a dream that people carrying lanterns at night, led him to Jesus, who wore the other half of his coat.

We learned 2 songs, the first one, a long time favorite, “this little light of mine”. The next one song took a little more research, but eventually we found and learned “I go with my little lantern“.

We read many different stories, our favorite is the story of St. Martin found in the Christopherus curriculum, grade 1. We also enjoyed the lantern story by Reg Down in his festival of stones book. His book has been a great resource for stories that cover various celebrations through the year. His stories are very captivating and imaginative with many fun creatures like fairies and mice (We own 3 of his books, and read them over and over). We also read about the rest of St. Martin’s life in Saints tell their stories (get it from the library, it is only 2 pages out of the whole book). Another story we enjoyed was Hugen’s lantern in Tell me a story, a Waldorf collection of stories.

The kids have each made their lanterns for our party.

It was amazing to watch them spontaneously break out into song as they worked. They sang “I go with my bright little lantern” together, it was definitely a “homeschooling mom payday”!

We also made tiny lantern carrying peg dolls, which the kids play with, and I use to tell stories.

We have also been reading about Moses and the burning bush, which is a loose tie-in, but they have not seemed to notice.

Next weekend we will be hosting around 20 kids, who will arrive with lanterns ready to show off and a lantern festival themed snack to share. What is a lantern themed snack you may ask? (You aren’t the only one to ask, don’t worry!) We will be making lemon meringue tartlets to share, pineapple slices, lemon bars, orange slices, morning glory muffins, anything yellow, orange, sun or light related will be a delightful addition.

We will carry our lanterns around the block and sing our songs, light some candles then share a snack.

Why go screen free?

Have we ever let our kids play tablets or watch tv mindlessly?  Yes.

Will we ever again?  Probably not.

What happened?

It was the first practice for my girls’ competitive cheerleading team, and my boys were looking around, bored, sticky and hot in the crowded viewing area to see if there were other kids to play with.  There were, there were almost ten other boys Caleb’s age, but they all had their necks flexed as far forward as possible, transfixed by tiny flashing screens.  There were even kids as young as Owen (who is two by the way) breathlessly holding onto their parents’ cell phones as surprise egg videos played for them.  At one point, a mom was receiving a call, when she tried to retrieve her cell phone from her toddler… you would have thought she was trying to pull out her kidney!  All the moms seemed to nod, knowingly.

Hey, I am a mom of 4, I totally get public displays of bad behaviour, but can we not see a causal link here parents?  This technology is addictive and inappropriate for this age.

The day this happened, I did still allow my kids to access screens at least most week days.  When Owen napped, the other kids could have an hour or so of tablet or tv time. Although I didn’t love it, I figured it gave me a chance to catch up on work I needed to do or have some alone time.

However, watching those small children clutching onto those screens as fiercely as a drug addict would his next hit… it flipped a switch inside of me.

It has now been a month, and I can’t see us going back to screens.  The changes that I have witnessed have been spectacular and as I have researched further into screens and their impact on young people, it has solidified my decision.

Look out for part 2 on how we have removed screens.

Barefoot babes

Shoes are good for kids, right?  Wrong!  Here’s why you should take their shoes off today!

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I remember when my first born started walking.  I was so worried about doing everything right… you know, as everyone does with their first child!  So we got him the best shoes we could find.  With arch support and padding of course.  We strapped them on, and our previously very mobile toddler, could barely walk a step without falling.  When he stopped falling, he looked like those puppies that have boots on.  What was going on?

We did not know then, what we know now.  Shoes have no benefit for small children, other than protecting them from injury.  For example, stepping on glass.

Shoes can actually weaken the muscles of your child’s foot, and damage their structure.

Children that do not wear shoes, have been shown to have better arches, and stronger feet.

Going barefoot, also allows your child to gather sensory data from their feet.  They would not be able to feel the grass, moisture from the soil, or temperature with shoes on.

They also are less able to develop their gross motor skills, because wearing shoes alters their natural balance.

What do we do now for shoes?

Our smallest kids wear Robeez as long as possible, when they aren’t able to be barefoot.  For my oldest, we just started buying Vivo Barefoot shoes and we are in love!  The shoes are very cool looking, which was a major concern for my oldest.  He reports they are his most comfortable shoes ever.  They have been good for playing sports, when shoes are necessary.  The shoes are also very minimal.  (In case you’re wondering, I have no sponsorship deal with either company mentioned in this post).

Do yourself and your little one a favour today, go outside without shoes!

 

Much of the information is from one of my all time favourite books, Balanced and Barefoot Angela J. Hanscom.

Raising a Wild Child

Do you aspire to raise kids that LOVE the outdoors?  Here’s a beginner’s guide:

20180507_130947-COLLAGE.jpgFind a few spots in your week that you can fit in some outdoor time.   Two times that work well for us are, right after lunch, but before nap time; or right after school.  If we go after school, I  make sure dinner is in the slow cooker, so I avoid cranky hungry monsters.

Find one outdoor place, that is easy to get to, and good for hanging out.  I would aim for a natural area, that has interesting features, like trees, rocks, sticks, long grasses or a creek.  When starting out, you’ll probably want to bring your kids to one spot and migrate every 15 to 30 minutes to a different spot.  This can mean moving 10 feet further down the trail.  This provides variety for kids that aren’t quite comfortable making up their own games yet.  Eventually when kids are used to playing in nature, you’ll be able to settle in one spot for much longer periods… but you may still enjoy variety.

Dress yourself and kids appropriately to enjoy yourself.  Bring along extra clothes and layers, especially for your kids 6 and under.

We have a “go bag” that stays in our garage that carries supplies that we want when going to the forest.  This will vary for ages, experience level and interests, but things we have in our bag: a magnifying glass, shovels, hand rake, small saw, rope, whittling knife, wipes and band aids.  We don’t have one, but a map and compass would be a great addition.

“I’m BOOoooOOred”… If this is happening, you may need to get your kids started in an activity, like helping them build a small fairy house, or dig for worms.  However, back off as soon as they are into an activity.  By playing independently, they are learning to use their imagination, and directing their own learning.  It also gives you an opportunity to observe your children, and let their games and questions direct what topics you could learn about next.

Find a way to enjoy yourself outdoors.  Bring a book, garden, watch the birds, read my blog for more ideas… (you know I had to!)

The last point is important:  They are going to be messy!!  Be prepared.  Things that help, are a large boot mat, change of clothes ready, cloth to wipe hands, and PATIENCE!

Yes, it would be easier to just let your child veg out and become a couch potato…  but you’d be missing out on the magic of raising a Wild Child!